Biri is an erect, branched, annual herb which reaches a height of 15 to 60 cm. Leaves are opposite, smooth or nearly so, ovate or ovate-lanceolate, and 1.5 to 3 cm long, with pointed tip and wedge-shaped base, and with toothed or wavy margins. Conical heads occur singly at the ends of long stalks, and are about 1 cm in length. Flowers are yellow. Achenes are flattened, oblong, dark-brown and enclosed separately in scales.
- In open waste places, old clearings, etc., at low and medium altitudes.
- In Benguet Subprovince, Cagayan, Nueva Viscaya, Rizal, and Laguna Provinces in Luzaon, and in Mindoro.
- Pantropic in distribution.
Study has isolated an active principle, spilanthol (C14H25NO).
Leaves yield alkaloids, carotenoids, essential oils, sesquiterpenes, amino acides.
Adaptogenic, antibacterial, antiinflammatory, antiscorbutic, digestive, diuretic, immunomodulatory, lithotriptic, sailagogine, tonic.
Roots, leaves, leaf juice.
In some Asian countries, used as spice.
- Root decoction used as purgative - 4 to 8 grams to a cup of water.
- Infusion used for itches and psoriasis.
- Internally, used as diuretic and as solvent for vesical calculi.
- Leaf juice and bruised leaves applied to wounds and atonic ulcers.
- Whole plant used in treatment of dysentery.
- Leaves, mixed with Blumea balsamifera and Tamarindus indica, used to prepare aromatic baths for convalescents, rheumatics and pregnant women.
- Tops and decoction of roots used as vulnerary.
- Flower heads, the most pungent of parts, chewed by Hindus to relieve toothache, as it produces redness of the gums and salivation.
- Tincture of flower heads used for toothache in lieu of tincture of pyrethrum.
- Used for inflammation of the periosteum of the jaws.
- In Old Calabar, used for toothaces.
- In South Africa, powdered leaf placed in carious tooth; rubbed on lips and gums for sore mouth in children.
- In Sri Lanka, flowers used for its diuretic activity.
- In the Cameroons, flowering heads are rubbed on the forehead for headaches. Also, combined with other plants, chewed and swallowed for snake bites and as local treatment for wounds.
- In Assam, used after childbirth.
• Fish Poison: Among the Mundas of Chota Nagpur, crushed plants used a fish poison.
• Antiinflammatory / Analgesic: Study of aqueous extract of S. acmella in experimental animal models showed dose-dependent inhibition of paw edema and increased pain threshold indicating significant antiinflammatory and analgesic properties.
• Diuretic: Study of cold-water extract showed a marked increase in urine output, marked increase in urinary Na and K levels and reduction of urine osmolarity suggesting loop diuretic activity. It may also inhibit ADH release and/or action.
• Antiinflammatory / Spilanthol: Study has isolated spilanthol which has shown to have signficant anti-inflammatory activity on lipopolysaccharide-activated murine macrophage model, partly from inactivation of NF-kappaB which negatively regulates production of proinflammatory mediators.
• Vasorelaxant / Antioxidant: Study showed SA extract exerts maximal vasorelaxation in a dose-dependent manner, although less than acetylcholine-induced NO vasorelaxtion. Chloroform extract showed the highest vasorelaxation and antioxidant activity.
• Immunomodulatory / Antioxidant: Total ethanolic extract of leaves showed significant activation of macrophages and enhanced their function as compared to control, suggesting the herb as a potential natural drug for immunostimulant effect.
• Bioactive Compounds / Spilanthol: Study analyzing the active chemical compounds of S. acmella revealed the naturally occurring insecticide, spilanthol, in the mother plant, flower heads and in vitro plantlets. Antioxidants, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and fatty acids (n-Hexadecanoic acid and tetradecanoic acid) were obtained from all the sample extracts.
• Antioxidant: Study showed the methanolic extract of stem of SA to have the highest superoxide radical scavenging activity while leaves showed maximum DPPH scavenging activity.